Create a Better Waste Management Strategy in 5 Steps

Here at Green Alchemist, we want to see you turn waste in profit, to embrace the idea that ‘trash’ can be treasure, and essentially maximise both rebates on materials, and minimise costs for waste services. To do that, you have to be willing to change some things… but what are those things exactly?

That’s what this five-step guide is going to show you...


Step one - Change your mentality

If you’re going to create a better waste management strategy, you’re first going to have to accept that some behavioural and cultural changes in your organisation must take place. The first thing you need to do is to flip your perspective, to stop seeing waste as a burden and a cost, and to reconsider ‘waste management’ as ‘sustainable materials management’ or even ‘resource management’.

A materials management strategy looks at the way that waste comes in and out of the business, and it takes careful and deliberate actions to tackle the ways in which those waste streams flow. Ideas become actions, actions become a strategy, strategy becomes company culture, and before you know it, what started as a tactic, becomes a machine for change.

Start to look at all of these things and consider whether you view them as a negative or a positive aspect of your business. Remember, they all present opportunities.

  • Prevention
  • Reuse
  • Generation
  • Source Separation (recyclables and organics)
  • Recovery
  • Collection
  • Transfer
  • Recycling
  • Treatment
  • Disposal

Once you’ve looked at each of these, ask yourself if you’re doing things efficiently. Are you recycling single streams, or doing DMR? Are you recovering organic and food waste, or sending it to general waste? When your business hosts events outside of the premises, how responsible is it? What are your internal communications like regarding recycling?


Step two - Approach your plan the right way

A plan is everything, it is the start, the end, the objective, and everything in between, it states what can be counted as a success, and it defines what is a failure, it clearly states how everything will be tracked, and it holds you accountable.

A major mistake that many businesses make when trying to create a better waste management strategy is that they see planning as an event, a day where they sit around a boardroom and create a document. The optimal way of planning your waste management strategy is to do it in stages and cycles so that improvements and optimizations can be included after each set of goals has been accomplished. 

Planning is ongoing, it’s continuous, and that’s how it stays fresh, and relevant, and doesn’t become an outdated idea that was made on a certain day in the past in a boardroom. You need to be adaptive, responsive, and ready to tackle whatever micro or macro events may come your way, whether it be service provider issues, legislation, or market changes.


Step three - Don’t do this alone

There are so many people out there that want to help you, these people even build companies around providing these services. Think of Waste Brokers and Environmental Consultants, for example, they are proven in the area of resource management planning. It’s their expertise, and you could really benefit from using them. The more you cooperate and collaborate with entities that know more than you, and are better connected that you, the more efficiently things can be done.

What are the end goals for a successful waste management strategy? Less waste, maximized recycling rate, lower costs. If you want to bring better sustainability and improved waste operations to your business, as well as negating the negative effects or damages that you are doing, then find a local provider who can solve your woes. 


Step four - Landfill is a last resort, but better avoided completely

For many businesses, the introduction of a waste management strategy comes with the implied goal of stopping things from going to landfill. This is great. The problem is, many businesses who produce waste can only guarantee that they have avoided the landfill with the first generation of services that they have procured. They can’t vouch for the service providers that their service providers use. This means that quite often waste is still ending up in landfills, it’s just taking extra steps to get there, and this is not great. It is not great at all.

To counteract this and create a better waste management strategy, you need transparent partners who create a paper trail from collection to recovery, whether that is reuse, recycling, or recovery (incineration). If recycled, try to find out where the end markets are, as there will be a significant carbon footprint difference on whether recyclables are being sent to Turkey or to Taiwan.

If landfilling is going to happen, such as for heavily contaminated or hazardous waste, make sure that the waste goes straight there and doesn’t take the scenic route.


Step five - Make sure to financially maximise the value of materials and minimise the cost of resource management

Working with a company like Green Alchemist is going to help you recover your funds. The money you spend on products that create waste packaging can be offset against the rebates received for selling that waste packaging (if it’s clean and baled). The reduction in your waste output means you also need fewer bins and collections, so you can continue to save money there. 

If you can earn and save at the same time, compared to what you are doing now, you’re going to be better both in an economic and sustainability sense. These leaps in progress that you are making can be communicated to your stakeholders, potentially winning new customers, more funding, and a greater reputation in both the community and the market.